At the start of 2023, Sky Tv pundit and former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher stated that Premier League Everton were the worst run club in the country. At best? A misguided statement. At worst? A laughable comment. 

At the same time non league clubs like Southend and Scunthorpe were in and out of the high court wondering whether the club would see another day.

As money is pumped into the premier league, the poor non league ownership epidemic is getting worse, not better. 

Southend United are a proud club with 117 years history.

For over 100 years of that history they were a consistent member of the football league, spending time in the Championship, league one and league 2.

But over a period of what can be called 20 years of managed decline, they were pushed to the brink, with fans unsure if they would have a club to support anymore. 

The situation at Roots Hall got so dire that the Shrimpers Trust, a passionate Southend supporters group, loaned the club £40 000, which covered a huge financial shortfall and paid the clubs non playing staff.

The trust sees it as impeccable that for situations like this not to occur again, fans must be able to hold those in power at the club to account. 

“Meaningful fan involvement can look like anything, but it must fundamentally be about holding power to account and preventing clubs that form part of local cultural heritage from disappearing due to mismanagement or even criminal activities.

“Fans know where they’ve come from, and they know where they want to get to. We turn up in numbers and play our part, so there’s no reason why we can’t be involved in discussions about what that journey looks like.”

But these things aren’t mandated, and sadly we have seen similar stories across the board in non league.

Scunthorpe United have dropped down from League two to the National League North in the space of two seasons, all whilst being held to ransom by the man who owns the stadium, as well as the club being bought by a man that had already been convicted of Fraud. 

And then, we get to Torquay United, a club that just a couple of years ago were one game away from returning to the football league, now find themselves on the brink.

The club have been given a 10 point deduction from their total, putting their National League South status in jeopardy. The search for a new owner is ongoing, but it is another case of a club being in limbo, no answers, little communication and steadily running out of hope. 

Three clubs, three scarily similar situations, so who holds the ultimate responsibility to stop this nonsense, and ensure that local institutions like Southend, Scunthorpe and Torquay, do not have to be constantly looking over their shoulder wondering when their next date in the high court is. 

The Shrimpers trust believe that fans can’t just do it on their own, and think guidance and structure should come from Westminster. 

“We certainly think that the government are fundamental to ensuring this doesn’t happen again, clearly the fans need to have some protection from these opportunistic owners.

“Whether that be 50+1, giving fans majority share, seats on the boards, we are more than just customers, but some owners see us like this. Fans have to be at the centre of the football club’s structure.” 

The government has now announced its football governance bill, which sets out intentions to bring in an independent football regulator, a step in the right direction. With non league clubs repeatedly put into peril, something simply has to give.